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Republican Senator to Support Washington Gay Marriage Bill

Republican Senator to Support Washington Gay Marriage Bill

Stevelitzow

Washington state senator Steve Litzow announced he would become the first Republican in his chamber to support marriage equality, a move that could provide a crucial boost for the legislation to be introduced as soon as this week by Governor Christine Gregoire.

Litzow made his announcement to the Seattle Times editorial board, calling himself a "traditional Republican."

"When you think about gay marriage, it's the right thing to do and it's very consistent with the tenets of being a Republican -- such as individual freedom and personal responsibility," said the freshman senator.

Republican lawmakers in New York and Maryland have used similar language in announcing their support for marriage equality legislation in the past year. The New York bill passed in June with support from four Republican senators. Washington would become the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriages if the legislation passes.

The support from Litzow and decision to break from his conference could be a "huge factor" in the outcome, the Times reports. State senator Ed Murray, who is gay, has said that prospects for the bill appear unclear in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 27 to 22 majority but some conservative Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the domestic-partnership law.

Litzow, a married businessman from Mercer Island, has supported equality legislation in the past, according to Pam's House Blend. He voted for a safe schools bill, a measure to expand parental rights for same-sex domestic partners, and a bill to give automatic recognition to married same-sex couples from out of state as domestic partners when they enter Washington.

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